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What is Creativity?


Creativity is often associated with the ‘creative arts’ but in reality it is certainly not unique to the arts. It can be seen and identified in all aspects of the arts, humanities, sciences, maths and technology.


Primary education is a critical stage in children’s development – it shapes them for life. As well as giving them the essential tools for learning, primary education is about children experiencing the joy of discovery, solving problems, being creative in writing, art, music, developing their self-confidence as learners and maturing socially and emotionally. Across the world, countries are reforming their systems of education to better prepare young people for the increasingly complex and challenging demands of the 21st century. In many countries, creativity is being given priority as never before.


Today’s essential life and work skills include innovation, creative thinking, complex problem-solving, imagining what the future holds and, above all, the ability to cope with choice, uncertainty and the unknown.


The curriculum should enable pupils to think creatively and critically, to solve problems and make a difference for the better. It should give them the opportunity to become creative, innovative, enterprising and capable of leadership to equip them for their future lives as workers and citizens.


At a practical level in the classroom, it is helpful to think of creativity in terms of what pupils are actually doing when they are learning in this way. This has the added benefit of ensuring that the focus is on learning and the ways in which creativity can improve it and make it more effective.

Creative Learning and Effective Learning Involves


Questioning and challenging: asking questions such as “why does it happen this way?” “what if we tried it that way?”, responding to tasks or problems in an unusual way, showing independent thinking.


Making connections and seeing relationships: using analogies, making unusual connections, applying knowledge and experience in a new context.


Envisaging what might be: seeing new possibilities, looking at things in different ways, asking “what if?” or “what else?”

Exploring ideas, keeping options open: exploring, experimenting, trying fresh approaches, anticipating and overcoming difficulties.

Reflecting critically on ideas, actions and outcomes: reviewing progress, inviting feedback and aacting on it, putting forward constructive comments, ideas, and ways of doing things.


Not only are these the signs of creativity, they are also the hallmarks of effective learning, particularly in situations where learners are involved in problem-solving, investigation and enquiry. They are important skills in their own right, but they cannot exist in a vacuum: they need to be developed in the context of the knowledge and skills of the national curriculum. Creativity is by no means confined to the arts, but the arts are very important and can have a strong impact on learning in all subjects.

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